the throw-away minimal-use trash heap – new and improved!

Via Communication Nation, “Are you sick of hearing about it?“:

“The very notion that you can slap a brand on nearly anything and that will change it for the better seems ludicrous. How’s this for a notion: Make better products!”

David Gray, over at XPLANE, wrote today that he’s tired of hearing about re-branding and suggests, instead, that companies focus on better product. It occurs to me that branding is the last recourse for companies that have lost the ability to innovate their product any longer, or that the product lasts longer than the company hopes people will re-purchase the product. So, without the ability to offer new features and a product that actually lasts, the only option is to re-brand the product. So, re-branding is a way to shorten the delay between the initial purchase and new purchases of the product.

The other option, which I think is worse, is to make the product just another addition to the throw-away minimal-use trash heap, where the consumer has to constantly re-purchase some component of the product.

I think the focus on re-branding is an indicator that the products are better than they were. Otherwise the company wouldn’t need to work so hard to get people to re-purchase. The trick is not to get caught up in that cycle. Re-branding, therefore, is a symptom. If the company weren’t re-branding, they’d likely de-value the product in some way to make it disposable.

Branding is the post-modern version of innovation in the physical product, I suppose. Since it just isn’t possible to offer the kind of magical product that people have been led to expect from post-industrial space-age technology, the brand is the only place where this can be created.

Instead of making better products, and instead of working on brand, we need to culturally re-frame what a desirable product is, and the economic model that surrounds those cultural assumptions. Trustworthy technology that lasts and works is desirable, not the wizz-bang that fizzles out.